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Our relationship with Samoa 

It’s 100 years since Britain asked New Zealand to undertake a "great and urgent Imperial service" and occupy Samoa, which until then had been administered by Germany. A 1,400-strong New Zealand Expeditionary Force landed at Apia on 29 August 1914, with no resistance from the German officials or the Samoan population. This was New Zealand’s first role in World War I, and Samoa was under the trusteeship of New Zealand from 1919 until it became independent in 1962 – the first Pacific island country to achieve independence. In the same year we signed a Treaty of Friendship, and have had close relations ever since.

We have more than 144,000 Samoans living in New Zealand – making up 49% of our Pacific Island population. Under a special immigration quota, up to 1,100 Samoans can get permanent resident status here each year. This is on top of the number coming to New Zealand under normal immigration arrangements.

Samoan is the most common Pacific language delivered in our schools, and 33 schools offered the primary and secondary curriculum in Samoan in 2013. Samoa’s art, culture, sport, language and politics make an important contribution to New Zealand. We in turn contribute to Samoa’s economy and social services with a wide range of aid initiatives.

Defence and Police

Samoa doesn’t have its own military forces. New Zealand's air force is involved with maritime surveillance over Samoa’s EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone), often with Samoan officials on board. In addition our Air Force planes and Navy vessels make regular visits to Samoa.

The New Zealand Police and Samoa Police and Prison Service share a long, close association. Our police force supports Samoa’s domestic violence unit and canine unit, and trains Samoan police in prosecutions and maintaining public order.


Samoa’s land mass covers 2,820 square kilometres, spread over nine islands to the northeast of Fiji. The two large islands, Upolu and Savai’i, are home to 99% of the 190,600 population. The capital Apia is on Upolu.


2015 statistics

Total trade in goods 

$115.8 million


Exports to Samoa

$111 million 

Top exports: sawn or chipped wood, cement, mutton and lamb

Imports from Samoa

$4.8 million

Top imports: manioc and sweet potatoes, beer, food preparations


US$865 million

GDP per capita US$4,436 (NZ GDP per capita is US$43,837)
GDP growth  2.8%  

The Samoan Government is serious about changing the trade imbalance between our two countries. In 2011 it launched the Auckland-based New Zealand Samoa Trade and Investment Commission to facilitate, strengthen and increase the flow of trade and investment between New Zealand and Samoa.

Tourism is Samoa’s top foreign exchange earner, and New Zealand is Samoa’s largest source of tourism income with Kiwis making up 44% of holidaymakers.

More than 144,000 Samoans live in New Zealand, and the money they send home (called remittances) to Samoa is an important source of income for the country.


The New Zealand Aid Programme works with Samoa to boost productivity through developing tourism and renewable energy, and improvements to health and education.

Find out more about our aid programme in Samoa

Samoans can come to New Zealand to work in our horticulture and wine industries under the Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme. The money they earn and send home is an important source of income for Samoa.

Find out more about the Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme (external link) 


Recent official visits

New Zealand to Samoa
  • September 2016: Minister for Women, Louise Upston attended the 11th Commonwealth Women's Affairs Ministerial Meeting in Apia.
  • August 2016: Civil Defence Minister, Nikki Kaye made a bilateral visit to Samoa, focusing on New Zealand and Samoa's partnership in Disaster Risk Management.
  • February 2016: Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully visited Samoa and met with the Samoan Prime Minister, other Ministers and business and community representatives.
  • July 2015: Prime Minister John Key led a New Zealand delegation to attend the first ever All Blacks test match in Samoa against Manu Samoa
  • September 2014: Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully attended the third Conference on Small Island Developing States, held in Apia.
  • June 2014: Prime Minister John Key visited Samoa as the first stop of a Pacific Mission, and attended the 52nd Independence Day celebrations
Samoa to New Zealand
  • July 2016: Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailel Malielegaoi attended the opening of Samoa's new Consulate Complex at the Mangere Town Centre in Auckland.
  • April 2016: Hon La'auli Polataivao Leautea, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, visited New Zealand to attend the Pacific Fisheries Ministers' meeting.
  • August 2015: Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi visited New Zealand to deliver the keynote address at the annual Pipfruit New Zealand conference.
  • November 2014: Head of State His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi visited to launch his book Whispers and Vanities
  • July 2014: Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi attended the Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme’s Annual Conference, Wellington
  • June/July 2013: Head of State His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi visited New Zealand for the Pomare Commemorations and official meetings

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